WSOP November Nine Could Make Good Advocates For Legal Online Poker

The 2015 WSOP November Nine Could Be A Powerful Advocacy Tool For Regulated Online Poker

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Short of poker ambassador Daniel Negreanu locking up a seat at the WSOP Main Event final table, US regulated online poker proponents couldn’t ask for a better stable of November Niners.

Six out of the remaining nine combatants either hail from states that have regulated online poker or are strongly considering enacting legislation, presenting a unique opportunity for these players to leverage their newfound celebrity status to advocate for regulated online poker.

The November Nine – where they’re from

  • Joseph McKeehen: North Wales, Pennsylvania – 63,100,000 chips
  • Zvi Stern: Israel – 29,800,00
  • Neil Blumenfield:  San Francisco, California – 22,000,000
  • Pierre Neuville: Belgium – 21,075,000
  • Max Steinberg: Oakland, California – 20,200,000
  • Thomas Cannuli: Erma, New Jersey – 12,250,000
  • Josh Beckley: Marlton, New Jersey – 11,800,000
  • Patrick Chan: Brooklyn, New York – 6,225,000
  • Federico Butteroni: Italy – 6,200,000

Notice that overwhelming chip leader Joseph McKeehen hails from Pennsylvania; a state which is on the precipice of legalizing online poker and home to one of the East Coast’s premier poker playing destinations in Parx Casino.

Two November Niners hail from New Jersey, where online poker has been legal for the better part of two years. At least one of these players, Thomas Cannuli, is known to play online.

Two others are from California, and another from New York. Legislators from both states have introduced online poker regulation bills in 2015 (see here and here), yet progress has been slow going and ripe with hurdles.

How the November Nine’s advocacy can make a difference

With the majority of the poker spotlight firmly fixed on them for the next four months, the US-based contingent of the November Nine can influence opinions and drive actions regarding online poker legislation in a number of ways:

  • Interviews: Major media outlets such as PokerNews will be conducting interviews and profiling each member of the November Nine. Any allusion to the legal status of online poker in their home state may raise the eyebrows of readers, prompting increased awareness.
  • Social media: The November Nine are bound to widely increase their followings on outlets such as Twitter. What better opportunity to advocate for the online version of the game that has brought these previously little known players fame and riches?
  • Advocacy groups: November Nine players can join advocacy groups such as the Californians for Responsible iPoker-fueled Let California Play! PokerStars Pro tour initiative in California, set to kick off on July 17, or coordinate with the PPA’s efforts.
  • Cross-vertical awareness: This one applies directly to Max Steinberg, who earned his Main Event seat on DraftKings. Any reference to how Steinberg won a seat via a primarily legal online gaming platform into a sport that for the most part cannot be legally played online in the United States may elicit questions from both daily fantasy sports and online poker fans alike.

To date, the discussion regarding regulation of online poker has been dominated by politicians and commercial stakeholders.

The powerful platform provided to these players by the World Series of Poker could help to ensure that the voice of the player takes its rightful place in the conversation.

Image credit: Bluff.

- Robert DellaFave is a game designer and avid poker player. He writes for several publications centered on legal US online poker and the regulated online gambling industries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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